The United States remains committed to fighting AIDS abroad and to redoubling efforts through the U.S. Global Health Initiative, President Barack Obama pledged in a video-link address at the conclusion of the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna. Obama's speech followed criticism from some advocates at the conference that his administration has failed to capitalize on momentum in tackling HIV/AIDS internationally.
In the address, the president acknowledged that the U.S. fiscal environment is a challenge in the wake of the global recession. However, Obama said his administration is focusing on comprehensive, sustainable, and effective approaches to handling HIV/AIDS.
Obama's $63 billion Global Health Initiative will address a range of diseases and focus on developing better health systems in poor nations. Nevertheless, some activists say the initiative will take funding away from HIV/AIDS programs including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The head of the Global Fund has said he worries about the prospect of securing the $20 billion needed to cover projects over the next three years.
A UNAIDS report released at the conference showed support from the wealthiest nations leveled out in 2009. That year, the G-8 wealthy nations, the European Commission and other government donors provided $7.6 billion for AIDS in developing nations, down from $7.7 billion in 2008, UNAIDS said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appearing on the video with Obama, said access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care should be "a universal, shared responsibility."
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